This bill — known as the MINER Act — would require that the removal of National Forest System lands in Minnesota from availability for mining or the establishment of a national monument on such lands be approved by Congress. The bill would also restore two mineral leases in Minnesota’s Superior National Forest that were canceled by the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December 2016 and modify those lease terms. Nothing in this bill could be construed as allowing the prospecting and utilization of mineral resources in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Mine Protection Area.
The bill would also specify that mineral leases on forest system lands in Minnesota be issued for an initial 20-year period and renewable for 10-year periods if the lessee complied with the lease’s terms and conditions during the prior period and the lease encourages production or addresses changing conditions in the lease area. The Secretary of the Interior could suspend operations under a lease if the lease can only be operated at a loss due to market conditions or if operations are interrupted by strikes.
Environmental reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for mineral leases covered by this bill would have to be completed within 30 days of this bill’s enactment. The Dept. of the Interior and the Forest Service (through the Dept. of Agriculture) would be authorized to grant permits for using surface lands not included in the lease for purposes connected to the development, exploration, and use of deposits covered by the lease.
The bill’s full title is the Minnesota’s Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act.